While there were complaints from some wind developers, Accion Group, selected with the approval of the Public Service Commission of Colorado to serve as the Independent Evaluator (IE) for the Black Hills/Colorado Electric Utility Co. LP 2013 Wind Request for Proposals (RFP), said the RFP process was fair and open.
In an Aug. 13 final report, Accion reviewd the action taken by Black Hills in the development and conduct of the 2013 Wind RFP. Black Hills issued this RFP on April 23, soliciting proposals for up to 30 MW of wind. The company was soliciting proposals to take advantage of the extension of the production tax credits through the end of 2013 provided by the American Tax Relief Act (ATRA). Therefore, successful Bidder(s) were required to be able to show sufficient progress on the project to comply with the requirements of ATRA. This RFP was open to responses by Black Hills affiliates, and was conducted exclusively on a website.
Bids were due on June 14. Then after the IE surveyed bidders, Black Hills re-opened the bid process in an effort to attract more bids. The revised bid date was July 17. The names of the three bidders are not shown in the public version of this report.
The Bush Ranch site, controlled by a Black Hills affiliate, is directly connected to the Black Hills transmission system. A number of bidders expressed a desire to propose new generation on that site. Some of them expressed the belief that the Black Hills affiliate was pre-determined to win, simply because the affiliate was able to bid using the Bush Ranch site.
The IE was assured that Black Hills held no ownership or leasehold interest that would confer control of Bush Ranch. The IE said it is unaware of any authority for the commission to require the parent corporation to permit third-party developers to construct wind generation at the Bush Ranch. “While an appearance of preferential access exists on the part of the parent corporation, the IE understands that actual control of the Bush Ranch site is not held by Black Hills,” said the report. “Accordingly, while mindful of the relationship, the IE evaluated the Affiliate bid on the same basis as all other bids.”
Accion said it believes the company conducted the RFP fairly and without bias towards or against any bidder or type of generation acceptable under the terms of the 2013 Wind RFP. “We are satisfied that Black Hills adhered to the established RFP protocols and consistently demonstrated its commitment to a fair and objective process,” it added.